Tennessee Code Annotated

Title 40: Criminal Procedure

Chapter 35: Tennessee Criminal Sentencing Reform Act of 1989

Part 1: General Provisions

TCA 40-35-102: Purpose of chapter.

The foremost purpose of this chapter is to promote justice, as manifested by § 40-35-103. In so doing, the following principles are adopted:

     (1)  Every defendant shall be punished by the imposition of a sentence justly deserved in relation to the seriousness of the offense;

     (2)  This chapter is to assure fair and consistent treatment of all defendants by eliminating unjustified disparity in sentencing and providing a fair sense of predictability of the criminal law and its sanctions;

     (3)  Punishment shall be imposed to prevent crime and promote respect for the law by:

          (A)  Providing an effective general deterrent to those likely to violate the criminal laws of this state;

          (B)  Restraining defendants with a lengthy history of criminal conduct;

          (C)  Encouraging effective rehabilitation of those defendants, where reasonably feasible, by promoting the use of alternative sentencing and correctional programs that elicit voluntary cooperation of defendants; and

          (D)  Encouraging restitution to victims where appropriate;

     (4)  Sentencing should exclude all considerations respecting race, gender, creed, religion, national origin and social status of the individual;

     (5)  In recognition that state prison capacities and the funds to build and maintain them are limited, convicted felons committing the most severe offenses, possessing criminal histories evincing a clear disregard for the laws and morals of society and evincing failure of past efforts at rehabilitation shall be given first priority regarding sentencing involving incarceration; and

     (6)  (A)  A defendant who does not fall within the parameters of subdivision (5), and who is an especially mitigated or standard offender convicted of a Class C, D or E felony, should be considered as a favorable candidate for alternative sentencing options in the absence of evidence to the contrary; however, a defendants prior convictions shall be considered evidence to the contrary and, therefore, a defendant who is being sentenced for a third or subsequent felony conviction involving separate periods of incarceration or supervision shall not be considered a favorable candidate for alternative sentencing;

          (B)  As used in subdivision (6)(A), "separate periods of incarceration or supervision" means that the defendant serves and is released or discharged from a period of incarceration or supervision for the commission of a felony prior to committing another felony;

          (C)  If a defendant with at least three (3) felony convictions is otherwise eligible, that defendant may still be considered a favorable candidate for any alternative sentencing that is within the jurisdiction of and deemed appropriate by a drug court;

          (D)  A court shall consider, but is not bound by, the advisory sentencing guideline in this subdivision (6).

History: [Acts 1989, ch. 591, § 6; 1990, ch. 980, § 21; 1994, ch. 736, § 1; 2005, ch. 353, § 1; 2007, ch. 512, § 1.]